108. Jeff Simmermon

The Iowa Idea: Jeff Simmermon

“It was like river wearing down rock.”

On this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Jeff Simmermon. Jeff is a beautiful creative – a comedian and storyteller who hosts a fantastic podcast called “The Reluctant Phoenix.” His podcast is a series of conversations with a wide variety of people who have rebooted their lives whether or not they really wanted to in the first place. The Reluctant Phoenix is available anywhere quality podcasts are served… So, it might not be the same place you find this humble podcast.

We dig into Jeff’s journey from going to college for visual art, to working in the early days of digital design and social media, to comedy and storytelling. Jeff describes his early stage shows and what it was like working onstage making music with live chickens. We dig into what trauma, from testicular cancer to the loss of a parent, can do to focus one’s priorities.

I appreciated Jeff sharing the details regarding his collaboration with friend and producer Kara. We mix it up on the importance of food and the inspiration for his “Cooking is Coping” newsletter. I relished Jeff’s perspective on the problems with the “endless optimization” of social media and why maybe the world would be better off with fewer photoshop filters.

I’ve enjoyed Jeff’s comedy and love The Reluctant Phoenix, so it was an honor having him join me on the show. Links to Jeff’s website, Bandcamp site, and podcast are linked in the show description. I hope you enjoy the episode.

Jeff’s Bio

(copied from Jeff’s website with permission)

I have worked to strategize, create and present Web content in some capacity or another since 2004, when I started my first (and now largely mothballed) blog. It got me a job as a Community Manager at AOL in 2005, where, among other things, I was able to direct and manage the AOL Blogs community, as well as AOL Gay & Lesbian. My personal blog was also featured on Instapundit, Digg, BoingBoing, ValleyWag, Metafilter, the Washington Post, Consumerist, Wired, and any number of other large, widely read sources of traffic.

After moving to New York City in the summer of 2007, I worked at the College Board as a content creator and Web manager, writing, editing, and uploading articles for the College Board’s sizable SAT/LSAT prep site. I also worked to develop a strategy for the College Board to begin incorporating blogs, message boards, comments and other aspects of the social web into their online presence.

I began working as the Director of Digital Communications at Time Warner Cable in May, 2008. I developed, launched, and edited Time Warner Cable’s blog and Twitter presence, worked collaboratively to develop crisis communications, and wrote and edited a lot of content for that blog on a very regular basis. You can see examples of that work on my Work Writing page.

After leaving TWC in December 2013, I did freelance social strategy and content development for Brand Connections, an advertising/branding agency with clients including VO5, Nissin Famous Foods, SkinnyGirl Sweetener, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more.

I’m also a storyteller, standup comic, and the producer/performer behind ‘And I Am Not Lying,‘ a variety show that combines stand-up, storytelling, burlesque, sideshow and music on the second Friday of every month at UCB East.

I just recorded my first album for Comedy Dynamics, which will be released in mid-April of 2017.

I have won multiple Moth StorySLAMS, including a GrandSLAM in March of 2014. My stories have appeared on This American LifeThe Moth’s podcast, and in written form on The Paris Review DailyI also teach a semi-private storytelling class.

You can follow me on Twitter: @jeffsimmermon

Links

Jeff’s website: http://www.jeffsimmermon.com/
Twitter: @jeffsimmermon

Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-reluctant-phoenix/id1536818332

Jeff’s Bandcamp site: https://jeffsimmermon.bandcamp.com/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

107. Matthew Gilbert

The Iowa Idea: Matthew Gilbert

“It knew it just required me to continue to learn.”

Matthew Gilbert joins me on this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast. Matthew, a native of Waterloo, IA is a descended from generations of servant leaders. he is the founder and President of Iowa C.O.R.E. Inc., Economic Development Chair for the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, and a servant-leader on local, state, and national boards, commissions, and committees. Matthew enjoys mentoring youth, volunteering, and holistic wellness. Also, Matthew is related to Anne Carter, a DEI pioneer, and early guest of the podcast. Matthew frames his “vision is to develop compassionate leaders who demonstrate a mentality reflecting greatness, influence change, and commit to generational impact in historically disenfranchised communities of color.”

We discuss Matthew’s journey growing up in Waterloo, changing course from elementary education to becoming a lawyer, to sharing his time and talents to build communities, ecosystems, and helping black families build generational wealth. We talked about his quest to slay the philanthropic dragons to unlock the power and potential of our communities.

We dig into what it means to be a black man in Iowa and how Matthew channels his love of humanity to improve the wellbeing of residents and communities in Iowa. We explore the power of continuous learning and the need for our current systems to be more empathetic and future focused.

I always appreciate Matthew’s energy and passion and loved his framing of the importance of healthy infrastructures for black and BIPOC communities, which was a completely different take on my standard stuck/unstuck prompt.

In our conversation, Matthew referenced Abena Imhotep’s powerful TEDx Talk, which is linked in the show description.

It was an honor having Matthew join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Matthew

A native of Waterloo, Iowa; Matthew R. Gilbert, Esq. descends from generations of servant leadership. The Furgerson – Harris – Nash families are well known for advancing civil rights, education, health and equity for African American communities in Iowa.

An advocate, entrepreneur, and ecosystem builder that values cooperation, justice, and historic preservation; Matthew is differentiated by a complement of executive strategies, transactional expertise, and transformative resilience.

An experienced advisor for elected officials, public figures, business owners, faith-based leaders, and public-private partnerships; Matthew’s mission is to coach and advise families, businesses, and communities in creating generational wealth by leveraging legacy and impact.

Matthew is Founder and President of Iowa C.O.R.E. Inc., Economic Development Chair for the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, and a servant-leader on local, state, and national boards, commissions, and committees. Matthew enjoys mentoring youth, volunteering, and holistic wellness.

“My vision is to develop compassionate leaders who demonstrate a mentality reflecting greatness, influence change, and commit to generational impact in historically disenfranchised communities of color.”

Links

Matthew’s website – www.mrgreatnessofficial.com
Abena Imhotep’s TEDx Talk

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

106. Alyx Coble-Frakes

The Iowa Idea: Alyx Coble-Frakes

“I had to stop being shy about it.”

In this episode Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Alyx Coble-Frakes. Alyx is a Holistic Coach and the CEO and Co-Founder of The Agenda. App who specializes in period empowerment. After returning from the Peace Corps in 2015, she felt out of touch with her own health, so she started on a path of healing. This healing became her passion, and she now works with entrepreneurs to help harness the power of their monthly cycle for maximum impact and revenue in their businesses.

We discuss Alyx’s journey growing up in Iowa, traveling to twenty countries, as well serving in the Peace Corps in Peru. Alyx describes her unexpected journey, originally thinking she would be an ESL teacher to becoming a business major and eventually becoming an entrepreneur. We talk about Alyx’s company, The Agenda Period, as well as the importance of having women entrepreneurs and business leaders as examples for girls and young women.

We dig into health coaching, menstrual health, and entrepreneurship and how those elements converged with The Agenda Period. Alyx describes her work to de-politicize menstruation and why menstruators deserve dignity and equal opportunities around the globe and why it’s so important to reduce shame and help support fully embodied women.

I always appreciate Alyx’s positive energy and her drive to help open opportunities for everyone to be their best selves and reach their true power and potential. Through her work, she also provides important perspectives on social justice and allyship.

It was an honor having Alyx join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Alyx

Alyx Coble-Frakes is a Holistic Coach and the CEO and Co-Founder of The Agenda. App who specializes in period empowerment. After returning from the Peace Corps in 2015, she felt out of touch with her own health, so she started on a path of healing. This healing became her  passion, and she now works with entrepreneurs to help harness the power of their monthly cycle for maximum impact and revenue in their businesses.

Links

https://www.facebook.com/TheAgendaPeriod

Facebook group

Website

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

105. John Hagel

The Iowa Idea: John Hagel

“I’ve always been attracted to edges.”

In this episode Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by John Hagel. John is an author, strategist, management consultant and entrepreneur with more than 40 years’ experience. After retiring as a partner from Deloitte, he released his latest book, The Journey Beyond Fear, that addresses the psychology of change, and he is developing a series of programs to help people navigate through change at many levels. John works with companies and people who are seeking to anticipate the future and achieve much greater impact. John is widely published and quoted in major business publications including The Economist, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal, as well as general media like the New York Times, NBC and BBC.

We discuss John’s new book The Journey Beyond Fear and its three pillars – narrative, the passion of the explorer, and learning platforms. We cover how elements of the book serve as an extension of his earlier book The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion.

I appreciated John’s perspectives regarding the need for life-long learning and why we need to cultivate leaders that don’t rely on threat-based narratives. I loved John’s framing “if we all came together, imagine what we can achieve.”

It was an honor having John join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About John

John Hagel III has more than 40 years’ experience as a management consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur. After recently retiring as a partner from Deloitte, McGraw Hill published his new book, The Journey Beyond Fear, that addresses the psychology of change and he is developing a series of programs to help people navigate through change at many levels. John has founded a new company, Beyond Our Edge, LLC, that works with companies and people who are seeking to anticipate the future and achieve much greater impact.

While at Deloitte, John was the founder and chairman of the Silicon Valley-based Deloitte Center for the Edge, focusing on identifying emerging business opportunities that are not yet on the CEO’s agenda.  Before joining Deloitte, John was an independent consultant and writer and prior to that was a principal at McKinsey & Company and a leader of their Strategy Practice as well as the founder of their E-Commerce Practice.  John has served as senior vice president of strategy at Atari, Inc., and is the founder of two Silicon Valley startups.

John is also a faculty member at Singularity University where he gives frequent talks on the mounting performance pressure created by digital technology and promising approaches to help traditional companies make the transition from a linear to an exponential world. He is also on the Board of Trustees at the Santa Fe Institute, an organization that conducts leading edge research on complex adaptive systems. He has also led a number of initiatives regarding business transformation with the World Economic Forum.

John is the author of The Power of Pull, published by Basic Books in April 2010.  He is also the author of a series of best-selling business books, Net Gain, Net Worth, Out of the Box, and The Only Sustainable Edge. He is widely published and quoted in major business publications including The Economist, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal, as well as general media like the New York Times, NBC and BBC. He has won two awards from Harvard Business Review for best articles in that publication and has been recognized as an industry thought leader by a variety of publications and institutions, including the World Economic Forum and Business Week.

John has his own website at www.johnhagel.com, and for many years wrote personal blogs at www.edgeperspectives.typepad.com as well as contributing postings on the Harvard Business Review, Fortune and Techonomy websites. He is active in social media and can be followed on Twitter at @jhagel and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jhagel/

John holds a BA from Wesleyan University, a B.Phil. from Oxford University, and a JD and MBA from Harvard University.

Links

John’s Website  https://www.johnhagel.com/

John’s Latest Book  https://www.johnhagel.com/book-the-journey-beyond-fear-by-john-hagel-iii/

John’s Book on Amazon  https://amzn.to/34xPFDd

Twitter @jhagel

LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/jhagel/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

104. Alan Moore

The Iowa Idea: Alan Moore

“We can reclaim our dignity.”

In this episode Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Alan Moore. Alan is a designer and business innovator on a mission to help businesses discover their own unique beauty. Alan’s most recent books, 2016’s Do Design: Why beauty is key to everything and this year’s Do Build: How to make and lead a business the world needs, are among my favorite reads of the past year.

Alan shares his journey, which includes a somewhat unexpected path into design, and the advice he received from his mentor, Derek Birdsall, which to this day still helps guide Alan’s work. We dig into some of Alan’s design tools and principles including the power of the poetic brief, the potential of regenerative businesses and economies, and why beauty is the key to everything. We explore the capacity of narrative, the insights in biomimicry, and the holy trinity of craft – heart, hand, and mind. This was a special conversation.

I appreciated Alan’s perspective and passion for design and why design is a way “that we reclaim our dignity” Through the lens of Shaker craft we can see “what they’re reaching for is not beauty, but truth.” As Alan applies the lessons and insights from design to business innovation he provokes and inspires with a powerful framing question “what is the best possible outcome?” and why some of the biggest innovation risks companies are facing is taking no risk at all.

It was an honor and absolute pleasure having Alan join me on the show. Perhaps Alan and I can have our next conversation while walking in nature.I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Alan

Alan Moore is a designer and business innovator on a mission to help businesses discover their own unique beauty.

Working directly with companies and organizations, Alan mentors teams and individuals, delivers inspirational leadership programs, and advises clients on how to design and build a regenerative business. Alan has shared his knowledge in the form of board and advisory positions, and has taught in institutions including MIT, the Sloan School of Management and INSEAD.

Alan is the author of four books on creativity and business transformation, including Do Design: Why beauty is key to everything (Do Books, 2016), Do Build: How to make and lead a business the world needs (Do  Books 2021). He has spoken at The Do Lectures, SXSW and the Hay Literary Festival and has featured in the media.

Alan still works as an artist. Every day, he tries to lead his life as beautifully as he possibly can.

You can find out more on his website: beautiful.business

Links

https://beautiful.business/about/

https://beautiful.business/newsletter/

https://thedobook.co/products/do-build-how-to-make-and-lead-a-business-the-world-needs

https://vimeo.com/514635648

https://thedobook.co/products/do-design-why-beauty-is-key-to-everything

https://twitter.com/alansmlxl

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

103. Dave Hill

The Iowa Idea: Dave Hill

“It’s a sloppy look.”

In this episode Iowa Idea Podcast, Dave Hill, from show business, returns to talk about his creative process and new work that’s he’s launched since our last conversation (May 2020). One of his latest projects is The Bunny Shop, named after Dave’s mom, started by Korri Santillan and Dave, from before, “as a way to make dresses they want to see in the world.” Dave talks about the importance of Vibe Guy to help drive business. We discussed some of Dave’s latest acting projects – Girls5Eva and Drunk Bus.

We dig deep on the pros and cons of New York’s dip game and toast scene and some critical differences between New York and Northeastern Ohio’s toast options. I challenge Dave to toast like a champion. We explore the world of oatmeal and the wonders of spinach in your morning oats. Our conversation, as the best conversations do, turn to the magic of hockey. Then Dave and I dig into old time hockey logos and sweaters, and start to trash talk some of the terrible sweaters and mascots, whether on the ice or in civilian settings. Spoiler, as much as we love hockey jerseys, in a civilian setting, they’re a sloppy look. We provide our hot takes on the Iowa Heartlanders name, logo, and jerseys.

It’s always an honor to have Dave on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Dave

Dave Hill is a comedian, writer, musician, actor, radio host and man-about-town originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but now living in New York City in a totally sweet apartment with a party deck and everything. He is the author of three books, Tasteful Nudes, Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and his most recent, Parking the Moose. Dave’s working on a fourth book. He has written for The New York TimesGQSalonThe Paris ReviewMcSweeney’sThe New York ObserverThe Cleveland Plain DealerVICEGuitar World and a bunch of other places. Comedy legend Dick Cavett called Dave “a major figure among American comic writers, past and present,” which is pretty much the coolest thing that has ever happened as far as Dave is concerned.

Dave has appeared on such TV shows as Inside Amy Schumer and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, hosted for HBO and Cinemax, and performed live comedy around the world. He hosts The Goddamn Dave Hill Show on the WFMU radio station in Jersey City every Monday night. Dave is a frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life. He is also a musician who currently sings and plays guitar in the psych/garage rock band Painted Doll, the extremely extreme Norwegian black metal band Witch Taint, and the power pop band Valley Lodge, whose song “Go” is the theme to HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Links

The Bunny Shop – https://thebunnyshops.com/

Dave on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mrdavehill/

Dave’s Books – https://www.davehillonline.com/books

Dave’s Music – https://www.davehillonline.com/music

Dave’s Podcasts – https://www.davehillonline.com/podcasts

The Pride of Cleveland – https://800pgr.lnk.to/DaveWE

Drunk Bus – https://www.drunkbusmovie.com/

Girls5Eva – https://www.peacocktv.com/stream-tv/girls5eva

Hello You’re Dead – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRm9kSDn17k

The Black Metal Dialogues – https://www.theblackmetaldialogues.com/intro.html

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

102. Janna DeVylder & Steve Baty

The Iowa Idea: Janna DeVylder & Steve Baty

“There’s no hero in solving complex challenges.”

In this episode Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Janna DeVylder and Steve Baty of Meld Studios, an award-winning service design consultancy in Australia. Janna, who grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and graduated from The University of Iowa, is a Founder, Director and Principal Designer at Meld. Steve, one of Meld’s co-founders, is a highly experienced and seasoned leader in the design space. Both Steve and Janna have served in leadership roles for the IxDA, the international Interaction Design Association.

They share their journey in design leading to co-founding Meld Studios with Iain Barker. We dig into themes of equity and ethics in design and what led to the Meld founders creating an employee-owned trust, built on themes of longevity and equity for all “Meldsters.” I really appreciated their thoughtfulness and vulnerability in describing this latest phase of the business, as it’s still what Janna describes as a “living experiment.”

We dig into themes of equity and curiosity, as well as the traditional, French sense of a salon – an event that entertains and educates. I appreciated Janna and Steve navigating the time zone differences between Sydney and Iowa City to make this session happen. We were able to talk about the international connection to RAGBRAI. I also appreciated Janna and Steve bearing with me as we explored idiomatic expressions and the differences in English for Australians and Americans as we explore the concept of “cutting the tall poppy.” Perhaps Steve was playing a straight bat when we talked about midwestern “salads.” I loved Steve and Janna’s personal approaches for getting unstuck in their work.

It was an honor and absolute pleasure having Janna and Steve join me on the show, as I’ve been a fan of their work since I first met Steve in 2016. Thanks Janna and Steve for taking the time and sharing your perspectives. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Janna

Janna is a Founder, Director and Principal Designer at Meld Studios, an award-winning Australian service design consultancy. Meld’s focus is on helping organizations to co-design better policies, services, systems, decision-making and ways of working with their customers and their people.

In addition to managing Meld and leading design projects, Janna and her co-founders have guided Meld to become the first Australian-based organization that is employee-owned by trust, and are looking to find ways to support other small and medium-sized businesses to do the same.

Janna has extensive experience in the non-profit space, serving as President of the international Interaction Design Association for three years during a period of massive change and growth. She sat on their non-profit Board of Directors for four years, growing membership from 7,000 to 70,000 and global local groups from 12 to 70. She currently serves as a Good Design Australia ambassador and has served as a judge of the international Good Design Awards.

About Steve

Steve Baty is a highly experienced and seasoned leader in the design space. He has over 25 years of varied hands-on experience as a business founder, designer, keynote speaker, awards judge, IxDA president, conference organiser and speaker, and UX Bookclub founder.

He co-founded Meld Studios in 2009, the same year he co-founded and became conference director at UX Australia. Rising to be president of IxDA Global 2012 to 2014, he still managed to fit in dozens of conference presentations across Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas, including a keynote slot at Interaction South America in Brazil in 2017.

A key contributor to UX design excellence, Steve has loaned his expertise multiple times as an awards judge at the Interaction Awards, Good Design Awards, Superannuation Excellence Awards and the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

Steve has a passion for improving our society and the services we interact with on a daily basis, whether that be our financial services and payment systems; the train you take to work; or our tax system. He wants to ensure everything we use is designed with care and consideration for – and with – the people who use them every day.

Links

meldstudios.com.au
twitter.com/docbaty

twitter.com/jdevylder

https://employeeownership.com.au/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

101. Jessi Shakarian

The Iowa Idea: Jessi Shakarian

“Tell people what you’re excited about.”

In this episode Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Jessi Shakarian. Jessi is a developer turned UX designer at DIA Design Guild in Los Angeles, California. She is a UX industry writer and public speaker on usability, design, and chess. Her work has been featured in Prototypr and UX Collective. She also writes for chess publications like Chess Tech News and Chessable. Jessi has built the bridge to the chess industry, where she is a consultant and is working on making chess engines more usable. Jessi is currently writing a book about what chess can teach us about building digital spaces.

Jessi shares her journey from writer and coder, to training to become a med tech assistant to UX designer. Through her interests in information architecture led her to better understand Chess. Jessi’s skills, experience and interests converged as she explores chess and working to make digital chess engines more usable and accessible.

We dig into how working on chess and chess engines and how chess can help us better understand exformation, information architecture, usability, and accessibility. Jessi was so kind to bear with me as I nerded out on what we can learn when we start to explore other systems and how that can help us with better understanding our current system. We also explore the importance of understanding, or at least appreciating context, when it comes to design. Jessi’s experience from chess shows us the importance of reflexive learning and how we might improve our craft. It was an honor and absolute pleasure having Jessi join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Jessi

Jessi Shakarian is a developer turned UX designer at DIA Design Guild in Los Angeles, California. She is a UX industry writer and public speaker on usability, design, and chess. Her work has been featured in Prototypr and UX Collective. She also writes for chess publications like Chess Tech News and Chessable. Jessi has built the bridge to the chess industry, where she is a consultant and is working on making chess engines more usable. Jessi is currently writing a book about what chess can teach us about building digital spaces.

Links

Site: https://www.jessishakarian.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessishakarian/

Blog: https://jshakarian.medium.com/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

100. Mohamed Traore

The Iowa Idea: Mohamed Traore

“No losses, only lessons.”

In this, the 100th episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Mohamed Traore. Mo works as a Sales Development Representative for Roboflow, Inc., a computer vision and artificial intelligence startup, based in Des Moines, Iowa. He also works as a freelance web developer, hosts a financial education podcast and serves as Chair of the City of Iowa City’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission. I believe this is a perfect conversation to serve as the hundredth episode of the podcast, as we cover issues of race, restorative justice, technology, innovation, persistence, and continuous improvement.

Mohamed shares his journey – born in Brooklyn, New York in 1995, and moved to Iowa City, Iowa with his family in early 1999 to spending time learning to code, leveraging information and resources at The Iowa City Public Library.

We dig into the power of restorative justice, understanding other people’s journeys and experiences, and explore a Strategic Doing approach to collaboration. I really appreciated the stories Mo shared with me. It was an honor having Mohamed join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Mohamed

Mohamed was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1995, and moved to Iowa City, Iowa with his family in early 1999.

His interests include data analysis and processing; questioning conventional wisdom; learning new things and from different viewpoints; watching basketball; studying finance; and helping others where, and when, he can.

He works as a Sales Development Representative for Roboflow, Inc. A computer vision and artificial intelligence startup, based in Des Moines, Iowa, and founded by Joseph Nelson and Brad Dwyer.

He also works as a freelance web developer, host a financial education podcast alongside his good friend, De’Airius Salibi, and serves as Chair of the City of Iowa City Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

Links

How Your Favorite Brands Are Using Computer Vision

Blacksmiths Capital Research, A financial education platform by De’Airius “De” Salibi, and Mohamed “Mo” Traore.

City of Iowa City Truth & Reconciliation Commission

South District Neighborhood Association

Dream City, Iowa City

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

99. Kelly Leonard

The Iowa Idea: Kelly Leonard 

“Meaning is made in moments.”

In this episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Kelly Leonard. Kelly is the Executive Director of Learning and Applied Improvisation at Second City Works. His book, “Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City” was released to critical acclaim in 2015 by HarperCollins. Kelly is a popular speaker on the power of improvisation to transform people’s lives. Kelly co-created an initiative with the Center for Decision Research at the Booth School at the University of Chicago, The Second Science Project, that looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation. He also hosts the podcast, “Getting to Yes, And,” for Second City Works and WGN radio.

For over twenty years, Kelly oversaw Second City’s live theatrical divisions where he helped generate original productions with such talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carell, Keegan Michael Key, Amy Sedaris, Adam McKay and others.

Kelly shares his journey from starting out at Second City as a dishwasher to producing shows, and ultimately serving as the Executive Director of Second City Works. Second City Works focuses on improv’s application in the business world, to improve outcomes and business performance.

We dig into the power of improv and group mindfulness as ways to be a better human. We talk about the role of creativity in the early stages of innovation and divergent thinking, and why it’s important  not to conflate creativity and innovation. Kelly shares how his research on improv led to a collaboration with The Booth School of Business and the “Second Science” initiative. I appreciated Kelly’s insights on the importance of practice and how improv and be a form of practice in entertainment, business, and life. It was an honor having Kelly join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Kelly

Kelly Leonard is the Executive Director of Learning and Applied Improvisation at Second City Works. His book, “Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City” was released to critical acclaim in 2015 by HarperCollins and was praised by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair who called it “…an excellent guide to the lessons that have bubbled up in Second City’s improv workshops.” Kelly is a popular speaker on the power of improvisation to transform people’s lives. He has presented at The Aspen Ideas Festival, The Code Conference,TEDx Broadway, Chicago Ideas Festival, The Stanford Graduate School of Business and for companies such as Coca Cola, Microsoft, Twitter, Memorial Sloan Kettering and DDB Worldwide. Kelly co-created an initiative with the Center for Decision Research at the Booth School at the University of Chicago, The Second Science Project, that looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation. He also hosts the podcast, “Getting to Yes, And,” for Second City Works and WGN radio that features interviews with academics, authors and leaders such as Brene Brown, Adam Grant, Michael Lewis, Lindy West, Ash Carter and Amy Edmondson.

For over twenty years, Kelly oversaw Second City’s live theatrical divisions where he helped generate original productions with such talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carell, Keegan Michael Key, Amy Sedaris, Adam McKay and others. In 2019, Arts Alliance Illinois awarded Kelly and his wife Anne Libera with their Creative Voice Award.

Links

Twitter: @KLsecondcity

www.secondcityworks.com

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).